It’s a problem that has plagued me for as long as I’ve been cooking. I want to add a little canned diced tomato to a side dish or a pot of sauce, but I don’t want to add the whole damn can. So I dump the leftovers into a glass container and refrigerate it for later use. Except that by the time “later” comes, it’s been 10 days and those tomatoes are looking pretty iffy.
It happens with chicken broth, too. I tried a new prawn scampi recipe last night that called for three tablespoons of chicken broth (a criminal offence!). That left me with one full can—minus three tablespoons—of broth to store for a week and then dump down the drain, along with my tears of regret. Because who is going to freeze a few heaping spoonfuls of diced tomatoes or less than a can of chicken broth? My mother-in-law, that’s who.
The epiphany came in her kitchen a few weeks ago when I watched her walk over to her freezer, take out a plastic container halfway full of diced tomatoes and dump half a can on top before returning it to its frozen home. “What did you just do? What was that? What are you doing?” I stammered at her.
“I got tired of throwing away half-cans of diced tomatoes all the time,” she said with authority. “So whenever I have a little left over, I add it to that container. I’ll defrost the whole thing the next time I’m making something that calls for a couple of cans of diced tomatoes.”
This trick can be used for whatever type of canned tomatoes, broth, or other canned product you’re wasting in your own kitchen. Just be sure to label the container with the date you started using it so that you don’t overdo it and keep the food frozen for too long. (Tomatoes can be frozen for up to three months; six months for the broth.)
This article has been updated since its original publication